Needless to say, it was a learning experience for everyone involved. We don’t regret going through the process, and we’re now wiser and stronger because of it.
Now that we’re back with what we’re calling BuzzShift 2.0, here are a few insights for other business owners who may be facing similar decisions.
A little Q&A with Our Co-Founders
Why did you sell BuzzShift?
We saw the potential in joining a larger, traditional firm like Ivie, getting to work with larger clients, and hopefully helping the team there transition some of their traditional clients over to digital.
The fastest-growing brands in the world are digitally-led brands, but they’re not limited to only using digital channels. Being a part of a more holistic marketing play with brands, which included everything from print ads to in-store signage, was something very important to us. Ivie allowed us that opportunity.
Why did you buy it back?
Like many relationships, you go into it with the best of intentions and on the same page. In the end, though, it simply didn’t work out the way either party thought it would, so we decided to amicably part ways.
What lessons did you learn?
There were several big takeaways:
- Companies start and end with culture. BuzzShift has a unique culture. We’re very flexible in how we work with clients; when we work; where we work (in terms of being remote or in the office); and even in the types of jobs that each person can fulfill (such as moving from project management to operations, or shifting from graphic design to creative strategy). It’s difficult to assimilate into another organization without losing some of that company culture.
- Our team is everything. Very early on at BuzzShift, we focused on ways to create, maintain, and grow a great team. Hiring slowly. Firing quickly, when firing was needed. Instilling high autonomy and even higher responsibility. Creating an environment that promotes authenticity and honesty. We didn’t try to create a family; we took a professional sports approach and tried to create the best team to put out on the field. Team members change, grow, and move on, but we always tried to grow the quality of the organization, so we could better attract high-performing team players.
- Looking back, we realize how fortunate we are. Consider the odds:
In short, we hit every milestone we could have in seven years. That’s mainly due to the team we have had the good fortune of hiring. And that goes back to culture. See lessons #1 and #2.
How did this experience change your view on owning a business?
It made us all the more thankful that we could run our own firm. And being a part of a larger company made us appreciate how much tougher it is to scale a small business up and manage it through all the growth transitions. Being a leader in a huge organization is tough sledding, with difficult decisions that are far reaching. It’s no joke.
What is BuzzShift 2.0? How is it different from the old BuzzShift?
In some ways, BuzzShift 2.0 is the same as it ever was: fantastic people, great culture, great clients, and a dynamic quality of work. But in other facets, BuzzShift 2.0 is totally different: we’re leaner, more nimble, and even more focused on the future of digital marketing. Our mission of helping businesses grow hasn’t changed, but our digital strategies and tools continue to evolve as the market does.
Why move to a coworking space (WeWork)?
For us, it was about flexibility and agility. We needed to figure out how BuzzShift 2.0 would function and operate as a business model, so we had to have an office arrangement that was highly flexible. WeWork didn’t lock us into a 3-5 year contract usually associated with commercial leases, so that allows us to stay nimble and grow as needed. They take care of all the operational logistics that added hours back to our day (utilities, internet, snacks, etc), so it gives us more headspace to work on the business, not in it.
What advice would you give someone who was considering selling their business or getting acquired?
Talk to a good cross-section of business owners in your space. We had great wisdom and input from other tech–related founders and advisers whom we trust, and have known personally for years. We didn’t have to go into details with them, but just the fact that they knew our industry/space, and our business model, helped us a great deal.
Also, a good accountant and a business attorney are both worth every penny. Don’t skimp on those in the beginning of your venture, and don’t try and minimize their value at the end.
Would you do it again (get acquired)? If so, what would you do differently this time?
Under the right circumstances, we would be open to it, but we probably need a little break before the next one! The difference would be that we have an acquisition under our belt, so we have a better sense of what to look for now in terms of due diligence, and we will have our expectations dialed in more accurately.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more thoughts and insights about where digital marketing is headed. Feel free to connect with us on social, or drop us a question in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Our amazing Madison Mentesana